Picture this: you’re making your way through the woods on a brisk fall morning. You’ve been walking for hours now, your eyes combing the landscape in front of you looking for any sort of clue to follow.
The sound of a branch being broken immediately sends you searching around, which is when you see it. A few hundred yards away stands a majestic buck that’s totally unaware that you’re here. You quickly scan the area for cover, bend your knees and slowly start to make your way towards the deer…
Thrilling scenes like this are why many hunters love stalk hunting deer. Although the end goal is still the same (a filled tag), stalk hunting comes with its own sets of unique challenges and tactics that a hunter must implement to be successful. Read on to learn more about stalk hunting and to get some tricks of the trade!
What is Spot and Stalk Hunting?
What is stalk hunting? It’s easily the most rigorous and demanding form of hunting out there. It requires you to spot the animal you’re hunting from a long distance and then sneak up on the unsuspecting animal for the chance to get a clean shot. This type of hunting requires discipline, intelligence, and plenty of patience — but it also comes with pure excitement, adrenaline and, if done correctly, can lead to some great results.
Stalk Hunting vs. Ambush Hunting
Ambush hunting is what most casual hunters are used to: you find a hiding spot in the woods or a field and wait for an animal to come to you. This type of hunting is what claims the majority of whitetail deer each season, and it’s definitely a reliable method of hunting for any type of hunter. It’s an effective method for hunters who know the land well and understand the behavior patterns of animals in the area.
However, if you aren’t finding luck with ambush hunting or want to take matters into your own hands, then you may want to try stalk hunting deer instead. While it’s definitely more difficult than ambush hunting and requires more knowledge, if you have the right instincts and tactics on your side, you can greatly improve your chances when you go to the field.
Proven Deer Stalking Tips and Tactics
First and foremost — it’s important to note that every hunt is going to come with its own unique set of circumstances and variables that you’ll need to take into account. But, with that being said, there are some time-tested tactics that you can utilize in every hunt. Let’s check them out.
#1: Stay Quiet
As is the case with all types of hunting, cutting down on the noise you’re making is crucial for your success. Deer have a heightened sense of smell and hearing, and when you combine that with their notorious paranoia, you get some critters that are easy to startle.
When you’re stalk hunting, be sure that you’re walking light on your feet and try to avoid anything that will make noise underfoot, such as crunchy snow, dead leaves, or twigs. If you can, try to control your breathing so that it isn’t too heavy, and you may want to look into getting a silencer from Silencer Central in case you have to take a few different shots at the deer. The less noise you can make overall, the better your chances will be of filling your tag.
#2: Be Aware of the Wind
As we mentioned before, deer have a heightened sense of smell. It’s much stronger than our own human noses, and if they can smell danger coming, you better believe they won’t stick around to find out if it was a false alarm. Believe it or not, a deer can smell unmasked human odor from as far as ¼ mile away, which can be a problem for any hunter who is trying to sneak up on a deer.
Understanding the wind patterns is important when you’re stalk hunting deer. Take time to recognize which way the wind is blowing and, when you do end up seeing a deer, a factor that into your approach method. This will help your chances of successfully sneaking up on the deer without it detecting you.
#3: Elevation Matters
Stalk hunting is a game of angles, which is why you’ll want to stay aware of your elevation at all times. There are different times when you’ll want to take advantage of different elevations.
When you want to scope out the land and plan your course of action, then you’ll obviously want to be up on a higher elevation. However, when you do see a deer, you’ll want to avoid being too high — if you’re so high up that your silhouette stands out without a background, then you’ll increase the deer’s chances of seeing you. As you approach the deer, you always want to have a background against your silhouette. If you can master this, you can greatly cut back on a deer’s ability to spot you before you’re ready.
#4: Trust Your Senses
Hunting is perhaps the most instinctive, ancestral practice that people still participate in to this day. Humans have been hunting all throughout history, which means that our DNA is wired to have certain instincts and insights when we are out in the field. Don’t ignore these insights — they’re put within us for survival and success.
If you think you hear something, trust that instinct and pursue it. If you think you see something, take some time to explore it. Even if you have that indescribable feeling that something is watching you, it’s worth exploring, because odds are, you’re probably right. Avoid paranoia, but don’t doubt what your senses are telling you.
#5: Dress (and Smell) Accordingly
When you’re out in the field stalk hunting deer (or any other animal), make sure that you look and smell the part. You’ll want to do your best to blend into the environment you’re hunting in, so be sure to pick out some appropriate camouflage for the terrain. It’s also important that you use some deer scent spray so that you can not only eliminate your human odors but also emulate deer odor.
#6: Keep Your Gear Light
As you’re putting your gear together, you’ll also want to be sure to only bring the essentials with you. Stalk hunting can require you to walk miles at a time — and if you have to be quiet and stealthy as you do so, it can start to take a toll on your body. Try to limit what you’re bringing so that you can make yourself a more mobile hunter. The essentials include:
- Your weapon
- A knife
- Your phone
- A compass or a map
- Your keys
Aside from that, there’s not much else that you need to bring with you out into the field.
#7: Stay Calm and Patient
After stalking deer all day, you may start to lose some hope. However, the second you do see a deer, your adrenaline will skyrocket, which can cause you to rush your process and make you more susceptible to a mistake.
Do your best to slow down and remain calm. Excitement and adrenaline lead to sloppiness, and any experienced hunter can tell you about how precise everything needs to be for a successful hunt. Once you see a deer, keep patience top of mind, because you can’t rush a perfect hunt.
Don’t Let Luck Be the Only Factor on Your Next Stalk Hunt
In case you can’t tell by now, stalk hunting is a complex form of hunting that takes preparation, adaptability, and plenty of patience. If you put these stalk hunting tactics to work for you, you can improve your chances and better your odds of a successful hunt when you take to the field this fall.
Having the right equipment on your side is essential to a successful hunt. Hunting with a rifle suppressor helps you avoid spooking nearby animals, protects your hearing, and can even reduce recoil. Our selection of silencers will help you better your chances of stalking the animal you’re hunting and winding up with a filled tag rather than a fleeing deer. Contact us to find the one that’s right for you and your hunt today!
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